peligro! : why i can no longer go to whole foods.

31 01 2011

i rarely plan to go to whole foods. as a relatively new vegetarian still vainly attempting to recreate meat on her dinner table, sometimes i do find myself needing to get a specific item or two that i can only find contained within their four posh and perfectly manicured walls (have you seen their produce displays?)… but very rarely. usually, i find that i end up there accidentally (usually with a wealthier and far more health conscious friend), as a victim of  a “do you mind if we pop into the whole foods for a sec, i just need to grab some tomatillos and a cask of bulgur?” situation.

yet however i wind up there, the result is ALWAYS THE SAME. i can literally not enter through those sliding doors for more than 1 minute, without spending at least $20 (usually, on a single 10 lb. salad). like somehow, $20 is the cost of the ferry ride to get to the other side of the pricey health food river styx. as my ENTIRE GROCERY BUDGET FOR THE WEEK IS $30, this is clearly a problem.

well, that problem occurred yet again today. after a fantastic coffee date with my friend rob, he uttered the dreaded ” just need to pop in and grab a few things!”. in theory, i was supposed to drop him off there and keep on walking toward home base, but it was cold… and we were still talking… and ooh are those blackberries on sale for 2/$5? just like that i was in the door with a stack of produce in my hand grabbing whatever else seemed like a good idea at the time: seaweed & tamari rice cakes? faux buffalo wings? strawberry soy protein shakes? certainly nothing that would pass as a meal or that even have any real nutritional value.

today’s damage- $31. SURPRISE!!! MY ENTIRE FUCKING GROCERY BUDGET! and save for two bags of fake beef tips intended for making stroganoff, everything else was completely unnecessary.  in my universe, that whole store is just one big ass impulse buy. Read the rest of this entry »





trading up.

14 11 2010

as a carless mainer, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that i’d never been to a trader joe’s before monday.  i’d heard rumors about them. passed them on the highway on the odd bus trip into more populous and lucky territories. i’d theorized about what might be inside their walls, but the only information i had to go on was that they sold natural foods and that their employees wore hawaiian shirts. i pictured it like whole foods, but with more tiki torches and styrofoam palm trees. i’d heard rumors that it was cheaper, but cheaper is a relative term when it comes to natural foods. they don’t call it whole paycheck for nothing.

the rumblings started back in march, and the excitement built steadily as portland prepared for our trader joe’s cherry to pop. as it turns out, as a city we were so collectively turned on by the prospect of low cost hawaiian shirt clad health foods that there was a need for at least one cop stationed outside of the parking lot to direct traffic for the first week or so. seeing as that i don’t care for crowds or waiting in lines, i’d been pretty much keeping away, but monday night after yoga, a half empty parking lot presented itself to me. here is what i learned on my fact finding mission:

1. trader joe’s is about 90% trader joe’s brand food. almost all of which has really hot packaging, and all of which is reasonably priced.

2. the powers of basic math and logical reasoning would tell us that the remaining 10% of traders joe’s goods are other brands like kashi, morningstar farms, larabar, and some other healthy crap that wouldn’t surprise you.

3. trader joe’s is small and totally not fancy. whole foods seems like a ludicrous display of excess and puffery compared to the stripped down beigeness and industrial shelving of TJs. it’s not pretty in there.

other than that, i’m still in the beta testing phase. i bought approximately $20 worth of trader joe’s brand eatables, and have been slowly picking my way through over the week. so far everything is super tasty (veggie corn dogs!), although i was appropriately warned by a more trader joe’s savvy friend on the west coast that cooking instructions tend to be a more or a ballpark or a starting point than actual followable instructions. i also learned that peppermint jojos (their seasonal version of oreos with real candy cane peices) are pretty much the best idea ever. so far, i would say that my impression is favorable. atlthough for my next trick, i’d like to actually try to do my grocery shopping there. is this the week? any other trader joe’s recommendations?





worth the trip- get thee to the grocery store!

20 10 2010

i’m still having a hard time getting my shit sorted out well enough to get my worth the trip dispatches out by sunday- which is probably when they would actually be useful. however, i do have high hopes that at some point i’ll finally be able to shift everything back into its proper place. but for now… GET YOUR ASS TO SHAW’S IMMEDIATELY! there isn’t anything worth getting at any other store in town- unless of course  you want a page full of crappy weirdo cold remedies from rite aid, or some marginally discounted pumpkin pop tarts at target (ick).

i’m very serious.

now, take your flier, and flip it over. $10 back (coupon toward a future trip) when you buy $25 worth of jazz on this page. with the vast array of coupons available on bettycrocker.com, smartsource, & coupons.com… basically, it’s a page of mostly free food. here’s what i did:

-3 boxes cheerios- @ $2 each w/3 $.55/1 coupons doubled- $2.70

-3 boxes cinnamon toast crunch- @ $2 each w/3 $.55/1 coupons doubled- $2.70

-2 boxes reeses peanut butter puffs (BEST CEREAL EVER)- @ $2 each w/2 $.65/1 coupons doubled- $1.40

-2 boxes scalloped potaoes (gross, i know, but i love their salty dehydrated goodness)- @ $1 each w 1 $.55/2 coupon doubled- $.90

-2 “healthy colors” valley fresh steamers- @ $1.50 each w/2 $.50/1 coupon doubled- $1.00

-2 boxes cascadian farms sweet & salty granola bars- @ $2.50 each w/2 $.75/1 coupons doubled- $2.00

-2 packages pillsbury simply refrigerated cookies- @ $2.50 each w/2 $.55/1 coupons doubled- $2.80

SPENT: $13.50

GOT BACK IN CATALINAS: $20

basically, shaw’s paid me $6.50 to take home 8 boxes of cereal and a bunch of other jazz. i know that save for the veggies and the cheerios, it’s not exactly the parade of health food- BUT next week i have $20 that i can spend on whatever the fuck i want. zebra cakes? crisco? crystal light? i think i may re-attempt the freezer cooking dance come november (need to free up my time for nanowrimo), so maybe i’ll spend my bonus cash on supplies.

in case you wanna see what other magic can be worked with this deal, the coupon goddess is back from greece and officially tearing shit up at her local shaw’s. also, she totally spotted the free crest toothpaste (on sale 10 for $10 with $1/1 from the last P&G brandsaver), which i completely missed.





worth the trip- full cosmetic takedown.

5 10 2010

so i’d never even heard of ulta before i drove by the mall a few days ago and saw that one had sprung up in the gaping void left by vinny ts (ok, maybe gaping void is a little dramatic- did ANYBODY go to that restaurant?). now generally, i would not entirely give a shit about a giant box store peddling makeup (sorry sephora, i’m just a low maintenance kind of girl), but they seduced me in with a $5 off $10 coupon in my sunday paper. i also did a little research and found out that in addition to their own lines and the high end lines they carry, they also carry all the drugstore brands, AND they take manufacturers coupons. SCORE! their flier showed a host of buy one get one 50% off deals on the drugstore brands, and i rounded up my very best coupons and headed over to see what i could do:

2 neutrogena blushes at $5.99 each with the BOGO50% sale, a $3/1 coupon (from all you) and a $2/1 coupon from this weekend’s paper= $3.99

2 NYC color nail polishes for $1.99 each with BOGO50% sale and a BOGO coupon from all you (seriously, if you don’t get all you, you’re doing yourself a profound coupon disservice)= $.99

2 cover girl eye shadows at $3.29 each with the BOGO50% sale, and 2 $1/1 coupons from the P&G brandsaver= $2.94

total= $7.92 minus the $5/$10 coupon from the paper= $2.92! i got all of the above makeup for less than $3! AND for joining their rewards club (totally free and painless to join), they gave me a sack of free goodies including a full size nail polish and eye shadow, scented body cream, and some fancy hair serum.  oh, and a 20% off coupon for next time. SUPER SCORE. also, the staff was super friendly and extremely patient with my crazy coupon ladyness. i’m hoarding this makeup for a secret project (details soon), so especially if they keep the coupon love flowing, i will definitely be going back again.

shaw’s- ok, i have never been a big fan of the “can-tastic savings” event, and this week was not particularly different. the only thing i deemed worth grabbing was the $.88 progresso soup. i had a $.50/2 coupon (doubled of course) from a coupon book i got in the mail, and considering they’re usually around $2 a piece, i thought that $.38 each was a good deal.

target- sadly, all the clearanced all natural fruit roll ups & herbal essences 2 packs were already gone (who are you target shelf cleaner? reveal yourself!), but they did have a good deal on hunts diced tomatoes at $.82 a can (screw you can-tastic savings) and i had a $1/3 coupon. $.48 a can seems pretty good, especially because chili season is upon us. they also had the deluxe velveeta mac & cheese (i’m obsessed with mexi-mac) for $1.52, which is pretty much as low as i’ve seen it anywhere (including walmart). there was a good $1/2 coupon in the paper last week (i think!), so $1 a box for me at least, seemed like a score. although again, nothing amazing.

rite aid- the free crest toothpaste and nivea lip care are definitely on the top of my list, but that schick coupon they’re all talking about on the deal websites doesn’t exist up here (kind of like the revlon coupons that never show up in the maine papers). also, i’m gonna pass on the incontinence pads. otherwise, meh. decent deal on frosted flakes ($1.60 per box when you buy 5), and cottonelle 12 packs are only $3.99 after +UP (the only coupons i could find were $.50/2), which is a pretty good price for toilet paper (especially if you’ve ever paid $1 or more for a “desperation roll” at a gas station).

cvs- roughly as much excitement going on at the cvs, but there is a good $.99 revlon nailpolish deal (after ECBs- limit 6!), which would be free if you had any revlon coupons floating around. i didn’t, but i got it anyway because i didn’t want to waste the $4/$20 that the emailed me this weekend. however, the big deal to look out for is lurking in the magic coupon machine. $5 off all halloween decorations and costumes with NO MINIMUM PURCHASE! i bought a pair of striped tights and some purple hairspray for  $.99.  the big bummer was really getting the coupon (it’s a “one day only”) in a store that had kind of a minimal halloween section.

big lots- there is a 4/$10 movie deal goin on at the big lots right now on all regularly $3 movies. i couldn’t find 4 that i liked (my local store didn’t have deep blue sea as advertised- FAIL!), but i did find a copy of rocket science, which is a great movie starring portland’s very own oscar nominee, anna kendrick.  anyway, even though i didn’t buy 4 movies, it still came up as $2.50. they’ve got some decent horror, and the usual sub “straight to DVD” quality (heartbeeps anyone?), but if you like to dig through big bins of crap- there are occasionally some gems in there.





kix ass.

4 08 2010

as of late, this bog has diverged away from the hardcore couponing that once was the center of my universe. which is not to say that i’m not still clipping, organizing, and deal hunting to some degree, but i was also starting to get the pre-symptoms of the dreaded coupon burnout. expiring extrabucks… neglected deals… cereal stash dwindling… but whenever i’m too busy or lazy to do my own research, or too filled with malaise to write about any deals i might happen to stumble into,  i can always count on  the coupon moms of the world to be there not being fuck ups and getting shit done. i like moms need to know (regular deals + she likes classic rock and is kind of a wino), of course my beloved coupon goddess (high heeled shoe addict who makes stockpiling sexy), and our very own local powerhouse, the money saving maine-iac.

basically, if there’s a grocery or drug store deal in the 207 area code, she’s got it first and probably better than i do.  case and point, yesterday afternoon i hit the shaw’s to do my grocery shopping for the week. for some reason our mailman stopped delivering the shaw’s fliers on thursdays, so i’m now forced to look online if i want to pre-plan my shopping (which i’m usually too lazy to do, and i most definitely was distracted this week with new puppy goodness), or pick mine up at the grocery store. this week it turned out to be DOLLAR DOUBLER WEEK (basically it will double coupons with $1 value, so there’s lots of opportunities for FREE STUFF!), and as usual, i was monumentally unprepared with coupon inserts from the last 2 weeks unclipped on my  coffee table. damn. but back to the kix. initially, i’d skipped over the cereal aisle completely in my haste to finish my very last minute shopping for the week (shamefully, i didn’t even make a list, and as a result will be eating string cheese and pirate booty for dinner this week). but lucky for me, i gave the flier one last flip through before i headed for the checkout, and there it was- kix @ 3 for $6. a steal anyway, but i fortuitously had a fistful (6 exactly actually) of $.75/1 coupons from coupons.com (not sure if they’re still available) which doubled to be $1.50/1! $.50 kix. awesome! even awesomer- apparently when you buy 3 boxes of select big G cereals, you get a FREE GALLON OF MILK. so not only did i get 6 boxes of cereal for $3, i also got coupons for 2 free gallons of milk. and if that isn’t a good deal, i don’t know what is.

so i run home to go report my important kix related findings to my readers, thinking that i have scored some sort of immaculate secret deal or something… come to find out that money saving maine-iac reported the whole situation on THURSDAY (and was way more thorough and awesome about it). so my point is that if you’re looking for the perfect source of great maine-centric grocery deals, really awesome giveaways (i need to get the hook up- i don’t know how she gets all that awesome stuff to give away), and  the location of every really great coupon in the state… money saving maine-iac is your woman. blog crush? absolutely. i am both totally jealous of her great site, and totally grateful that she has so much amazing info (because lets face it, i am way lazy and inconsistent), and you should be too. (now go shower her with the love that she deserves).





the road to hell.

29 06 2010

is paved with crumpled shopping bags. i was doing really well on my $30 a week plan for needless weekend spending… and then this weekend descended in a haze of clearance racks and impulse buying. does anyone else ever feel like they’re possessed by the devil? come july, i’ll be making some drastic reductions in my spending (to disastrous results i’m sure), but in the meantime… let’s revel in this last summer binge with gusto.

1. target, my second home. i once vowed that i would stop sleeping in sweatpants and old t-shirts and start sleeping in sexy lingerie. i’m not doing a very good job, but two new pieces of pretty from the liberty of london collection @ $4.48 each significantly increase the odds. if someone would come over to my house and finally torch my heinous disintegrating sweatpants, then we’d really be in business.

2. we decided to go to windham for a change, and that goodwill never disappoints. found another addition to my three investigators collection (jupiter jones is gonna solve that mystery SO HARD), and some crazy plastic apple container. i don’t know why, but i’m a sucker for shit that’s shaped like fruit.

3. marden’s sweet marden’s. there’s a brand new gigantic fucking mardens that just opened up in the old walmart building in south portland. i’ll be posting a deep and dirty expose about my experience later this week, but until then… BEHOLD! hobo spanx no more (that’s control top panty hose with the legs cut off for those who aren’t yet aware of my secret shame)! $11.49 for a maidenform control shorts. sure, it feels like my organs are being crushed, but i look SO SKINNY.

4. i ditched the boyfriend in the car for a nap while i took off to the marshall’s for a while. he’s such an old man. amazing asymmetrical t-shirt for $8, and the most beautiful summer dress ever for $19.99. i’m too fat for spandex, but there was a boatload of really nice looking marc by marc jacobs swimwear if you’re in the market for that sort of thing.

5. last time i was at the gap, it was all prairie skirts and straw cowboy hats, which is probably somewhere between windpants and juicy sweatsuits on the scale of shit that i shouldn’t be wearing. mysteriously this weekend, everything was awesome and on sale. oh, and everything that was on sale was an additional 40% off. got a cute skirt and 2 pairs of mysteriously great fitting pairs of 1969 (regularly $79 a pair) for $51.

6. shaw’s was the final stop for grocery shopping, and probably the biggest retail coup of the day. WACKY MAC MOTHERFUCKER! there was and endcap fucking full of it randomly over by the raw chicken. i bought just a couple because i could, even though i didn’t have the coupon that made them free.  but the biggest score was easily the fiber one deal. on sale for buy one get one (@ $4.29 each), i had a stash of $.75/1 coupons that would double, making it $1.29 for 2 boxes $.65 a box. i got 8 boxes for $5.16 total. i even had a $5/$50 coupon which would bring the whole goddamn mess down to almost nothing. it would have been exceptionally impressive if the boyfriend could have been an adult about it, instead of just giggling like a maniac, and telling me how much i’m gonna poop.

$102.58- scandalous! anyway, appreciate it now before i cut myself off from the crazy shopping forever (or until august, whichever comes first). but if the demon possession should happen to be too strong for me… tell my family that i love them, and make sure you wrestle my dead ass into those spanx. i don’t want to be a bloated corpse.





spending too little on too much.

14 06 2010

it was a spendy-ass sunday. took a little jaunt back to my hometown of augusta for brunch at the senator inn (a childhood fav that still holds up!), and a little light antiquing that turned into an entire day of shopping the town inside out. i got some pretty good deals that seemed necessary at the time… but seeing it all lined up at the end of the day (and added up), i start to wonder how much of my bargain shopping is really a bargain. i’m paying less for everything, but i’m buying more than ever.

shaw’s: 4 big G cereals @ $12.86 with $6 off when you buy 4 plus $4.40 worth of coupons ($.55/1 doubled from coupons.com) final cost= $2.46 for 4 boxes.

target: the liberty of london collection is on super sale at the augusta target and i snagged an adorable nightie for $8.98. there’s also a ton of zac posen stuff, but it’s not marked down enough for me to bother. give it another few weeks… i might have to go back to augusta and snag me a cocktail dress. i also found a mysteriously unblemished pair of striped espadrilles for $4.26 marked “AS IS”. their identical counterparts were just feet away in the full retail section for $16.99… maybe they’re going to explode in low speed collisions? i’ll keep you apprised if any defects should arise. lastly, i found a few boxes of puffs tissues with vicks vapo-rub in them (which i love but haven’t been able to find ANYWHERE- discontinued?) for $1.38 a box, and sacrificed 2 of my $.50/1 vocalpoint coupons. target total= an eerie $15.00 even.

big lots: to my credit, i did put back one movie and a $6 box of diet granola bars. but a $3 copy of funny face?! i have a list of movies on my iphone that i’m looking to buy. the problem being, that my price point for DVD buying is $5 of less, usually less. today i encountered 3 of those titles in the $3 bin. is there really anything else at big lots that’s even worth looking at? funny face, art school confidential, & confetti= $9.00.

goodwill: i used to own and love this jacket in another size that i am not officially too fat to wear. lo and behold, here it is at goodwill in brunswick for $4.99! oh wait, is that a yellow barb? make that $2.49!

cvs: i had $14 worth of extrabucks expiring tomorrow, and this evening was my only chance to cash in.  with the gillette proglide razors already sold out, i had to improvise a bit and use a few more extrabucks than i otherwise would have preferred. i ended up with a bunch or random crap (most of which will get donated), but it felt like a good haul considering the circumstances:

2 john frieda root awakening shampoos @$5 each with $3 ECB back when you buy $10 + $5/2 coupon= $2
2 right guard total defense deodorants $4.49/ea. on BOGO + $3/2 coupon from coupons.com= $1.50
1 covergirl wetslicks amaze-mint @ $4.99 with $3 ECB back, and $1/1 coupon= $.99
1 colgate proclinical toothpaste @ $3.99 with $2 back in ECB, and a $1/1 coupon= $.99
2 gillette bodywash @ $8 with $8 back in ECB and a $4/2 coupon= +$4 ECBs (the flier said limit 1, but it turned out to be limit 2!)
total OOP= $17.47 (paid $17 in ECBs + .$.47 in cash plus tax), received $16 ECBs

total spent this weekend (for all above pictured goods, not actually counting meals, groceries for the week, and a ridiculous failed dinner party that will never speak of again)= $29.42 of stuff that i didn’t actually need. on one hand, i could have spent a whole lot more on a multi-store shopping binge, and gotten a whole lot less. on the other hand, is spending $30 on anything that i don’t need really a bargain? it might be time to put the debit card away for a while and think about what i’ve done.








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